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Archive for February, 2011

Silence: A Short Course

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Invariably when speaking about The 5 Principles of Authentic Living, the word “silence” appears in my 5 Principles logospeaking. Silence and speaking — ironic, don’t you think? Silence is such an important word, because it points to that place from where authenticity arises. What do I mean when I use the word silence?

Silence is not “not speaking.” Nor is silence environmental quietude. Silence is a specific kind of relationship to our mind, to our thoughtstream. Silence means to simply be aware of thinking and speaking. Silence is the noticing dimension of being consciously aware of our thoughtstream, from outside the thoughtstream. Instead of just speaking from our thinking, we become aware that we are thinking, aware that we have beliefs, that we speak in abstractions and concepts. This “awareness of” is silence. The “awareness of” is what some Eastern spiritual philosophies call “discrimination,” the ability to tell real from unreal, true from false. What is real and true, as distinct from unreal and false? I can tell you that it has nothing to do with content, with opinion, with dogma, with point of view. Rather it is the difference between licking the page in a cookbook, trying to taste the picture,  and eating the actual food.

Silence is the stage upon which we stand as we embody, engage, and express our unspoiled, genuine self. Silence is the non-language language we hear as we embody the first principles of authentic living: Be Present. Silence is our mode of understanding as we stand on the banks of the thoughtstream.

How does one practice living in and from silence? How does one practice speaking from silence? Try this: be aware of every word that you say while you are saying it. Be aware of what you say and how you say it while you are saying it. Try that. See how you go. Don’t let yourself go unconscious for a second; don’t go on auto pilot. Try that. In this way, you live in silence and awareness and use your mind, your thoughtstream, as a hand puppet to express what your authentic self wants to say.

What does your authentic self want to say? You will know when you are Being Present, Paying Attention, and Listening Deeply. You’ll know. Then, you express: you Speak Truthfully.

And then, you Act Creatively.

And then you are flying.

Insight and Action

Friday, February 18th, 2011

We embrace “spiritual” principles and practices in order to become free from self-created alienation, suffering, actionand confusion. We long to experience our wholeness, our connectedness to others and the Earth, our creativity and joy, our authentic being. As we do so, it is important to remember that inner experience and its outer action are a singular, inseparable movement, and that all manner of personal growth, self development, and higher consciousness ultimately bear fruit in this world, as embodied action.

Exploring the nature of mind, self, and reality often takes us into higher and subtler planes of existence, where we can lose touch with the physical world and the dramas of everyday life. Many religions and spiritual traditions place spiritual above material, creating a false hierarchy and pitting Soul against World in a struggle for supremacy. This misconception has helped to create the common stereotype of a mystic or sage as an aloof witness to the world. But I have learned the greater purpose of inner spiritual work: to unite spiritual wisdom with compassionateaction — in the world. The essence of this view is that wisdom is both insight and action; thus we want to engage life fully and with our whole heart — nourishing self, relationships, work, and world with wisdom, compassion, and love through conscious choice and action.

This is why Speak Truthfully and Act Creatively are so vital for living an authentic life. Those two principles link the “inner” and the “outer” into a seamless whole, dissolving the seeming distinction and difference between the two. Inner and outer are one. Insight and action are one.

What to do in the Silence?

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Question:  Let me first thank you for your work. I recently bought your book about the ten words and more ask herethan anything it has given me the confidence to listen to and to trust myself. I do have one question. When I am Being Present and Paying Attention it gets kind of quiet; so my question is: how can I find my way then? My impression is that as I listen less to my thoughts I do become calmer but I also become, in a sense, disoriented because all the familiar landmarks of “my story” and “my thoughts” have disappeared. I hope I make sense and thank you for listening.

Robert: Thank you for your kind comments, and for your question.

I can certainly empathize with this almost disorienting sense of quiet. This quietness is what I call “silence” or “awareness.” Indeed, it is somewhat unfamiliar, and therefore disorienting. But it becomes familiar very quickly. You’ll see that for yourself.

As for your question: in my view, you already know the answer. It is there, in your question. You have gotten used to the landmarks of your thoughts and the stories you’ve made up about things. You are familiar with that way of being, and that way of living. But you have entered another way of being and living, one that is marked, not by thoughts, but by silence, and awareness. There are landmarks on these places, too; but you have to get used to noticing them.

It’s like seeing in the dark after the lights have been turned off. You have to let your eyes adjust. You have to recalibrate your seeing. Then you can see in the dark with your special “see in the dark” eyesight.

A little patience is in order. We have to let the seeing come to us. We have to let the landmarks of silence and awareness reveal themselves to us. We can’t go charging after them, or make too many demands on them. The world of silence, the world of awareness, has it’s own time, it’s own methods. We have to become students in that way of living.

You’ll see this for yourself, as you continue to Be Present and Pay Attention. As you add the next three principles, you’ll see your entire life change in ways you simply can not imagine or predict.

We Are What We Notice

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

A naturopath friend of mine is fond of saying, “We are what we eat.”Meerkat

Playfully, I respond, “Yes, and we are also what we notice.”

We are what we pay attention to. Our sense of self, or lack thereof, our choices and commitments, our state of mind and being, our capacity to act and thus self-author our life, or our defaulting to being at the effect of others — all of this is a function of what we pay attention to.

I’ve noticed that most of us pay exclusive attention to what I call our “thoughtstream,” the incessant flow of thoughts, images, beliefs, and emotions in our mind. We live within this torrent, and from this torrent.

We rarely notice the thoughtstream from outside of it, from awareness. This is what I call “being present.” The first principle of authentic living is Be Present. When we step out of the torrent of the thoughtstream, we awake into silence, and from this silence we can see forever in all directions.

Maybe not literally, but metaphorically. (Although, let’s not disparage the literal. One never knows.) In silence, we can notice things that are so beautiful in their vividness, in their realness, that we can’t speak about them. We can only thrill in the noticing. This thrill is a live current of energy, shakti, that courses through all the levels of our being.

In this enlivened, energized state of being, we can become giants, if we want. Or anything else. You can decide. You can write your own script: author your own life. This is authenticity, and it is a truly beautiful and profound way to live. We don’t live within and from our language-based concepts; we live in the immediacy of life itself. This is quite an astounding transformation, in and of itself. That’s why I say the first principle of authentic living is a game-changer.

It changes the fundamental game of our life, and of how we life it. See for your self.